(Frederick Goode, UK, 1965, unrated, 70 minutes)
In England, Frederic Goode's celebration of the British Invasion played in theaters as Pop Gear. That title appears throughout the film, though the term "go-go" never does. Clocking in at a little over an hour, it's a fun, variety show-style feature for fans of the UK pop scene, circa 1965.
Looking like a cross between Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman with his long, wavy hair and Black Watch plaid suit, Jimmy Savile, the host of Top of the Pops, provides snappy introductions for all of the acts, but not all of the songs. Some perform only one selection, while others perform more.
The film begins and ends with footage of the Beatles from their famous Royal Command Performance at London's Prince of Wales Theatre in 1964. This iteration of the quartet had graduated from the leather-clad Liverpudlians who made their mark at the Cavern Club to well-scrubbed London lads well on their way to world domination. Throughout energetic performances of "She Loves You" and "Twist and Shout," the mostly-female audience screams, cries, and doesn't let up for a second. It's not hard to understand why the Beatles would retire from touring just two years later.
At three intervals, dancers burst on to the scene to provide some fast-paced movement. While the men are clad primarily in fitted suits and skinny ties, the women are clad in colorful dresses or ballet-like ensembles comprised of leotard tops and gold lamé stretch pants. It's dated in the best of ways.
As music journalist Brian Reesman and songwriter Jeff Slate note in their entertainingly chatty commentary track, Brian Epstein managed many of these acts, notably the Beatles, so there was a lot of synergy at work.
In this sort of Hullaballoo context, the ballads--"Walk Away," "For Mama," and "Pop Gear"--from the likes of Matt Monro (best known for his themes to From Russia with Love and Born Free) don't fare as well, since they slow down the pace, not least because he's lip-syncing rather than singing.
Sadly, Jimmy Savile's presence casts a shadow over the entire enterprise due to long-term allegations of sexual abuse that became public after his passing in 2011. Though it has no bearing on the musicians, some of whom are still performing in 2022, it's impossible to completely overlook.